|Submitted by Anonymous|
(Mar 27, 2000)
Book 1, ostensibly of a trilogy. The cover doesn't really
make this clear although anyone familiar with Chalkers writing
would have a shrewd idea.
As he has shown in his well of souls series, Chalker delights in
filling in a great deal of his characters backplot. The fact that
he shares this with the reader sometimes delights and sometimes it
fails to add to the plot.
This book mainly deals with background plotting of the main characters.
How they came to be doing what they do, Was it serendipity that they
happened to be in that region of space time when it happened.
It bein the driving idea behind this series.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why nearly every civilisation of
whatever religeous stripe, has almost the same image for demons, devils
what have you...
Bipedal with hooves, furry legs, horns.
Chaklker postulates that this pertains throughout a wide galactic culture
dominated by three major empires, (of which humanity isn't one).
Each and every race in each and every culture in each and every empire has
a similar racial memory of demons in this physical form.
Now a planetry survey ship has found some bodies. Initially thought to be dead
and kept in some sort of shrine, it soon becomes apparent that they are merely
in some sort of stasis.
Letting them out has so far proved to be a poor idea.
The distress call has led to the coming together of 3 ships and their small crews,
one from each empire representing a differing philosophical and political viewpoint.
- The Exchange is an Empire based on a free market econmomy, broadly speaking
analogous to the 20th century USA.
- The Mycohilians represent a mechanistic comunistic society where the Marxist idea of
"From each according to his means and to each according to their needs" is posited
- The Mizlaplan are a Theocracy where the governing race are literally gods.
Chaker argues that if a being has such strong hypnotic will that on a one to one basis
no other being can resist it, they may as well be regarded as gods. The whole society is
predicated on fervent religous mania keeping everyone in line. Moreover, the majority
appear to really believe making this empire a reasonable analog of an Islamic
fundamentalist state, (Or even the US Bible belt :).
As mentioned before, this book deals mainly with backplot. Each of the three crews
summoned to the distress call has come directly from a prior mission where we have
seen some of their strengths and weaknesess.
We have also learned of their varying antipathies to the copmpeting empires, and in the
process learned about the empires themselves.
The book is written from a human viewpoint. Each of the main characters from each empire
is (or was), human. This is used to show how the human expansion into space was abruptly
curtailed by bumping into the three empires rather than representing any human elitism.
Humans are spread evenly between the empires and have more in common with other races
from those empires than they do with humans from an opposing empire.
It all makes for a facinating if disjointed read. Chalkers main mistake, If there is one, is
to raise the tension in the first chapter by filling in the background to the main demon
The next chapter starts promisingly with the receipt of the distress call. However then
Chalker fills 90% of the book with 'other stuff', only returning to the demons in the
final 20 pages or so.
This, if I may say so, causes immense frustration for the reader.
With luck and a following wind, that frustration will be alleviated by reading the second book.
We are just about to go demon hunting in the company of these protagonists whom we now know
so much about.
Chalker hasn't let me down before, I suspect he will not do so now.
A recommended read if you have the second book already lined up.
Visit the author of this review